One of the things I love most about this time of year is the appearance of fancy members of the cabbage family in our greengrocers. My particular favourites are kale and cavolo nero, kings of the cabbages. They both remind me of one of my favourite Portuguese dishes, caldo verde, a simple potato soup with finely shredded greens, topped with chourico and fruity, peppery olive oil. As a kid, I would crave for that rich, seaweedy, green taste but it was only ever to be had on holidays to Portugal.
I like my nice greens braised with garlic and chilli, Tuscan style. I like them in plain meals, where their sheer greenness is able to take centre stage. I recently made the greenest and meanest spaghetti with cavolo nero and it was totally delicious.
What you need (for 3 mains or 4 starters):
Big bunch of cavolo nero
4 cloves of garlic
Lots of extra virgin olive oil
Maybe some truffle oil if yr fancy
First, trim the leaves from cavolo nero and discard those woody stalks. Peel the cloves of garlic. Have a saucepan of water on the boil and blanch the cavolo nero and the garlic for four minutes, before draining and squeezing dry. Get the spaghetti boiling.
Transfer the cavolo nero and garlic to a food processor or, failing that, into whatever you use a handheld blender in, pour in some EVOO, and blend blend blend. When it has the texture of a firm pesto, season with salt and pepper and mix with the cooked and drained spaghetti until it's like a pan of bright green worms. If you are feeling flush, drizzle with some truffle oil.
Plate up, sprinkle generously with parmesan, and crack over some black pepper.
Mmm...healthy and delicious. It really works and tastes super fresh.